The Bridgestone Arena debut of post-retirement Mike Fisher and Ryan Hartman extended the Nashville Predators’ win streak to a franchise record 9 in a row, and they will put that new franchise record on the line tonight against last year’s Western Conference Final foe, the Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim Ducks
After a disappointing start to the season, the Ducks have turned it around. Through 67 games, their 80 points are good for second in the Pacific, although the Sharks, Kings and Flames are all within striking distance of the Ducks’ playoff spot. Will they lose their chance to compete for the Stanley Cup in 2018? It’s unlikely, but sportsclubstats.com has lowered their playoff chances to 77.3%, and a loss to the Predators would likely bring it down even more.
The return of Ryan Kesler has done a lot for this team, both in terms of production and morale. He has probably been at least partly the catalyst for the Ducks mid-season turnaround, although his stats—3 goals, 6 assists, +/- of -6 and 28 penalty minutes in 29 games—really make you wonder, well...
In all seriousness, Kesler is a talented center who will be doing whatever he can to help the Ducks leave Nashville with a win.
The Ducks offense this year has very much revolved around three players: Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey “Literally Satan” Perry.
James Neal shoots it off Corey Perry and in for the game-winning goal in OT pic.twitter.com/Rl11pg3puL— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 13, 2017
In 62 games, Rakell’s 58 points leads the team. Rakell is also scoring on 15.4% of his shots, the highest on the team for anyone who has taken more than 100 shots. Getzlaf has 47 points in 42 games, but his +/- of 16 is the most impressive stat. Perry is not playing quite as well. He has a +/- of -5 and 55 penalty minutes in 56 games, but he also has 39 points at this point in the season.
Guys like Ondrej Kase, Jakob Silfverberg, and Adam Henrique have also put some work in offensively, and they are definitely not guys the Preds want to give a ton of chances to.
The defensemen on this team can also do some scoring, but they are also there to make this team even more gritty. Montour, Fowler, Manson, and Lindholm are all playing quite well to this point, with each of them having more than 20 points. The only thing holding them back is their third pairing, which consists of Marcus Pettersson and Kevin Bieksa. This will be the first time in a while that Bieksa reunites with his old friend and dentist, Dr. Mike Fisher, D.D.S.
In goal, they will either go with typical starter John Gibson, who has a 2.46 GAA and .927 SV%, or Ryan Miller, who is putting up similar numbers at 2.52 and .925. Either way, the Preds will once again likely have their hands full at goalie.
The Nashville Predators
This team proved to us once again that they can dominate the majority of a game. Despite it being tied for two periods, it felt as though the Preds were in control for the most part during the game against the Stars. With Roman Josi skating at practice yesterday, his addition back to the lineup can cause a huge shift in this team’s dominance, especially if he plays even 1/5 as well as he did in Winnipeg.
Roman Josi (upper-body injury) is on the ice at AM skate.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 8, 2018
According to Nashville’s NHL.com reporter and 102.5 The Game contributor Robby Stanley, Kevin Fiala looks to be today’s maintenance guy. JoFA is back together and better than ever, Turris is back in the lineup, and the Hartnell-Bonino-Jarnkrok line that has found out how to do damage to opposing teams is also reunited.
#Preds lines at morning skate:— Robby Stanley (@RStanleyNHL) March 8, 2018
Fiala may be the "maintenance" guy today
As we’ve learned, there are two great options in goal for the Preds. With arguably the best 1-2 punch in the crease in hockey, the goalie play probably won’t be the issue for the Preds tonight.
Reasons to Watch
- Everyone loves to hate the Ducks
- That’s really all I’ve got but it’s a good reason to watch
I’ve already sprinkled a few of them in, but here’s the other good moments:
Game of Thrones Equivalent
Gonna take a break from the violent Game of Thrones scenes for today to add a fantastic trilogy of cartoons. Enjoy!
Sights & Sounds
Radio: 102.5 The Game. TV: Fox Sports-TN. Puck Drop: 7 p.m. CT.